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Bt Rachel Sacco

This year marks Experience Scottsdale’s 30th anniversary, and we are kicking off a yearlong celebration hallmarking three decades of promoting travel and tourism in Scottsdale. We wanted to start that celebration with a sincere thank you to our members, partners, stakeholders and supporters.

Thank you for being a part of the Experience Scottsdale story – whether you have just joined our efforts or have been with us from the very beginning. We couldn’t do our jobs without you.3

The first chapter of our story began in 1987, when the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce formed its convention and visitors bureau division. As the pages have turned, we have grown from a four-person team within the Chamber to a standalone organization with a staff of 45.
There have been many chapters in the Experience Scottsdale story over the course of 30 years, with each bringing change and development.

But one thing has remained constant over all these years: Our unwavering commitment to bolster the city’s reputation as a tourism destination.

We have stayed true to our commitment. In each chapter, Experience Scottsdale has positioned Scottsdale as a world-class vacation, meetings and group travel destination. We have helped keep our destination top of mind for all customer segments, from meeting planners to leisure visitors to travel professionals.

And we have done so by sharing your stories.

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By Scottsdale City Councilmember Virginia Korte

As 2016 is winding down and with Christmas less than one week away, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and also a Happy New Year.  I hope you, your family and friends have a safe and peaceful holiday season.

Soon the City Council will return to work -- so I want to let you know about my number one priority for 2017.virginiakorte_bio

It is critical that we begin aggressively investing in improving the city’s infrastructure.  Our current infrastructure needs are estimated to be in excess of $300 million.  If we do not start to seriously address those needs, it will be exceptionally difficult to catch up.

As the costs mount, we cannot afford to ignore maintaining the city’s systems and structures that contribute to our quality of life.  Keeping up with our infrastructure needs is also important in continuing to make our city a destination for visitors and something that attracts new businesses.

I hope you will join me in not only supporting the need to focus on our infrastructure, but also in advocating that we start planning to make the essential investment necessary to keep Scottsdale special and prospering.

I invite you to give me your thoughts on how we can achieve these objectives.  You can write me at Korte@KorteScottsdale.com.

Again, have a safe and happy holiday.

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The songs.  The homecomings.  The Proms.  The friendships.  The cheerleading.  The college pursuits.  The first loves.  The buddies in the locker room.  The playoffs.

There are certain things we never forget about high school.  Yet, in the case of Notre Dame Prep football players were robbed this year of memories that go with playing in the playoffs due to the misdeeds of adults.

When violations by the school’s program became obvious the Arizona Interscholastic Association came down with a harsh punishment.  No playoffs for perennial prep power Notre Dame this year. Parents were enraged and organized efforts to appeal.  It almost worked.  The coach was fired.  Other steps were taken.  But the scalp that many thought would demonstrate sufficient remorsefulness was that of school President Jim Gmelich.  Yet, he refused to resign.  The Diocese and Gmelich placed themselves about the kids.

It wasn’t just self-absorbing.  It was obviously deficient because everyone knew at the time of the appeal that Gmelich was a dead administrator walking.  So why not just do the right thing and resign then so graduating seniors and the rest of the team didn’t have to suffer?  Because the spoiled souls thought they could survive the soiling.

But of course that wasn’t to be.  Just last week Gmelich was gone as the President of Notre Dame Prep.

Some 25 years ago Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye” was one of those songs all high school Proms played.  It’s too bad Gmelich adopted that slogan at the time of his crisis rather than do right by a football team who still have a prom coming up in the new year but will never be able to get this past season back.

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Well, it certainly took the Scottsdale City Council long enough, but they appear to have found a terrific City Manager.

Former Casa Grande City Manager Jim Thompson is the chosen one, after three rounds and eighteen months of interviews.

The community will soon come to appreciate the erudite Thompson for his energy and purpose. He’s not one to belabor the bureaucratic journey.  He’s a person that wants to get things done.

And you can tell he’s appreciative of being in Scottsdale.  It’s a challenge.  It’s a great city.  It’s the big leagues.

One anecdote after Thompson got the job said it all.  City wordsmithers had crafted a press release announcing his hiring.  In presenting copy to their new boss they posited he could take as much time as needed to look it over and even get back to them the next day.  Thompson’s reply?  Go with it.  Looks good.  You know your job.

After enduring the last 18 months of the interim City Manager under whom morale lagged and the business community furrowed its brow Thompson’s conviction, command and lack of cowardice when it comes to making decisions is refreshing.  The interim City Manager never understood politics.  Thompson does.  He understands democracy involves all different voices from all different walks and that a City Manager’s impact is not just based on being the smartest guy in the room, or a command of issues, but his standing among those whose voices count as much if not more than his or hers.  Indeed, the interim City Manager was so incontinent on matters people and politics he thinks no one notices when he stacks important evaluation committees with acolytes from the one department he actually does know something about – water – or speaks inappropriately to his bosses, the City Council.

Thompson can’t start his post soon enough.  While it officially doesn’t begin until January 8th every Scottsdalian should be appreciative of the holiday gift he represents.

 

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*Bob Littlefield still hasn’t called Jim Lane to congratulate him on the Scottsdale Mayor’s race.  And they’ve been together at events.  #Classless

*Are the Democrats going to produce any sacrificial lamb to run against Doug Ducey in 2018?  Or just pass altogether?

*A big light rail fight could be coming to Chandler, Arizona

*Soon, Cave Creek Mayor Vince Francia will ride off into the political sunset.  How he has ruled over the most ungovernable town in Arizona with decency and distinction for so long is one of the most underappreciated municipal accomplishments of our time.

*Is a new user soon coming to the old Barney’s space at Scottsdale Fashion Square?

*Marijuana legalization will be coming back in 2020 not 2018

*In our opinion the worst and most ethically deficient political consultant in Arizona today is former Arizona legislator Phil Hubbard

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PHOENIX – As 2016 comes to a close, the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund has beat industry benchmarks by a wider margin than in previous years.

“This is recognition of the hard work and incredible staff at the State Treasurer’s office,” Treasurer DeWit said.
The fund beat many of the large public investment funds in the United States including CalPERS, CalSTERS, Dartmouth, MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

“Our conservative, America first portfolio of 1,500 stocks and 405 bonds show that keeping our own staff and not outsourcing the management of Arizona’s money to Wall Street not only saves the state tens of millions in fees but also has produced better results,” DeWit said.

The $5.3 billion Endowment returned 3.32% in the last fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. This compares to the median one-year return of negative -0.74% for all endowments, according to results published by Wilshire Associates and reported by Bloomberg, LLC. By these metrics, in the first full fiscal year under Treasurer DeWit Arizona’s endowment outperformed Wall Street’s average by over 4%. This outperformance has continued through the end of November, to soon be reported at the upcoming December Arizona Board of Investment meeting.

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alex-3Their monkey wrench gang vitriol and antics are almost enough to get even us to reverse our opposition to the Desert Discovery Center.  Almost.  

But what can’t be denied is how swiftly the “NO DDC” group’s political stock has fallen since November 8th.  

They went all in for Bob Littlefield in his challenge to Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.  He got trounced.  

The group sought the defeat of Councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte.  They finished first and second in the voting.  Their chosen candidate, Guy Phillips, barely survived, narrowly beating back a challenge from Scottsdale newcomer Dan Schweiker.  

Then it was revealed here how deficient NO DDC’s self-professed leader Jason Alexander truly is.

But the resonant revelations about the group’s increasing impotency can best be found in an analysis of Scottsdale’s November 8th precinct tallies.  As Lane, for example, ran up more than 70% of the vote in some areas of the city he won narrowly in the two precincts where the Desert Discovery Center was an obvious concern.  Littlefield actually bested Lane by some 20 votes in DC Ranch but lost by 200 in the WestWorld precinct.  This is where it gets interesting.  Lane clobbered Littlefield in all other northern Scottsdale precincts.  Desert Highlands, Grayhawk, Granite Mountain.  Littlefield discovered scant votes in those and other desert centers.  

What’s that tell us?  

Beyond these two, proximate areas of the city voters just don’t care about the Desert Discovery Center.  And that’s a problem for the project’s opponents moving forward.  

Indeed, we can’t understand why congressional Democrats kept Nancy Pelosi around after so much failure.  And we don’t understand why the understandable opposition to this McDowell Sonoran Preserve imposition would cede itself to a gang that can’t shoot straight.  At a minimum they should get away from personal attacks and the belief they know how to operate like Axelrod or Carville.   The merits of the argument are, and should be sufficient.  It better be, because their standing as a political force looks more like a penny stock.  

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By: Virginia Korte

The city of Scottsdale and our nonprofit partner, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale, Inc., invite you to a public workshop regarding the proposed concept for the Desert Discovery Center. Please join us as we introduce you to our experience designer - Thinc Design - and architect - Swaback Partners. They will be leading you through a workshop that will highlight the new Desert Discovery Center concept.

The Desert Discovery Center concept is envisioned as an interpretive education and research center focused on understanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and what it can teach current and future generations regarding conserving, living in and adapting to desert environments.

This workshop is an important step in the current process of determining what the DDC concept would cost to build and operate. This planning phase will be complete in August 2017. With this information in hand, the Scottsdale City Council can determine if they want to move forward with the project.

A community workshop will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Registration is required and a number of time slots are available from 3 to 7 p.m. To register, please select the time that works best for you and plan on actively participating for about 1 ½ hours. Please note: One registration per person. Those who register should be prepared to participate in the planning process for the proposed Desert Discovery Center at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (located at the Preserve perimeter -- Thompson Peak/Bell Road). The Scottsdale City Council has directed further study of the DDC concept at this location.

Project Update

Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale has hired Thinc Design as its experience designer for the Desert Discovery Center concept. Thinc Design has developed world-class projects of national and international significance -- most notably the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The firm's focus is on history, natural history, culture and the environment.

The Thinc Design team will be sharing more information about the developing concept at the Nov. 30 community workshop. To-date, they have provided a Summary of Outcomes (PDF) that gives a glimpse into the aspirations guiding the Desert Discovery Center's experience design:

  • The DDC should inspire future generations to preserve and protect - the story of the Preserve is an invitation to see the potential and value of local preservation, at all scales, and it will inspire local pride and ownership that will grow stewardship in current and future generations
  • The DDC should educate - alignments with STEM and STEAM frameworks will inform the design concepts and exhibits, supporting the educational mandate of the Center
  • The DDC should build anticipation for exploration - an experience that stirs people's imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery ... for many, it will be their first exposure to the real desert
  • The DDC should show people the "world of the desert" - the desert cannot be seen in a day or on a single hike ... there are things happening below the surface and inside plants that most of us cannot see, as well as off-trail locations where species are known to congregate or ancient sites with petroglyphs that must stay undisturbed
  • The DDC should support tourism - many people seek experiences that connect them with the "real place": authentic knowledge, cultural practices and activities ... the Center is ideally placed to align with the strategy of the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force's long-term plan for interpretation on the climate and ecology of the desert
  • The DDC should be inclusive - design planning will address accessibility for all visitors, including experiences that can replicate some of how the desert "feels" for those who cannot have a direct encounter
  • The DDC should be a model of sustainable design and practice - in its architecture and exhibit design, the Center should be sensitive to the landscape and create the least amount of visual interruptions and impact on the environment ... the eventual size of the Center has been of particular concern and we should aim to define its size in terms of what is needed to achieve the mission and economic and environmental viability ... in its operations, the Center should follow practices for sustainable cohabitation with neighboring residents, including traffic and parking management

For additional information on the proposed Desert Discovery Center Concept please visit the website.

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*Dan Schweiker may take another run for the Scottsdale City Council in 2018.  All three incumbents – Linda Milhaven, David Smith and Kathy Littlefield – are suggesting they will run too.

*As the Scottsdale City Manager saga turns . . .  it appears that new candidates will be interviewed in early December with a decision possible December 8th.

jim-norton*If lobbyist Jim Norton can find a way to get a massive tax break for a new Arizona Coyotes arena through the Arizona State Legislature Trump should immediately send him to the West Bank to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

*In an interview this week with John Gambadoro, the biggest radio voice in Arizona sports, Coyotes’ Minority Owner Anthony LeBlanc said he didn’t want a public vote.  Gee, wonder why?

*Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is not shying away from rumored mayoral aspirations and could assemble an interesting campaign coalition.

*Speaking of mayoral aspirations count Mary Hamway, Paul Dembow and Mark Stanton among the leading contenders to succeed current Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins in 2018.

brnovich*Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has put together a very impressive host committee list for his first major fundraiser toward his 2018 re-election campaign.

 

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lane portraitIn Scottsdale even winners apparently whine too.

After the Scottsdale Mayor’s “Laneslide” victory Tuesday night and subject council election results the Arizona Republic and Parker Leavitt properly interviewed candidates for a story.
Expectedly Bob Littlefield didn’t congratulate Lane on a race well run. Indeed, he still to this day hasn’t had the class to call with congratulations.  Littlefield carped about not having the resources to compete with Lane even though he had had them to win all of his other races in Scottsdale.  Maybe it had to do with calling the city’s business leaders “scumbags” and warning all in the business community “you should fear me.”  Littlefield even included a missive on one of his mailers talking about all the “dark money” Lane was receiving in the race.  That was a lie.  Lane didn’t benefit from a dime of such support.  That Littlefield couldn’t raise sufficient money speaks to his own deficiencies. After all, Hugh Hallman ran for Mayor of Tempe in 2004 without taking a single contribution with those having interests before the City Council and won in an upset over the establishment candidate.  Sound familiar? Littlefield just couldn’t get it done.

littlefield at deskSimilarly, council victor Guy Phillips also lamented “dark money” in his race – it was limited – confusing what the Realtors Association did in support of his opponents.  Their support was fully transparent, listing the source of the money used on their mail pieces.

Note to Littlefield and Phillips:  dark money is anonymous.  Get your facts and terms straight before casting aspersions.  In the case of Littlefield it’s par for the course but in the case of Phillips it undermines his impressive re-election accomplishment.  Be a guy who’s a grateful winner not a whiner.

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